This Sunday begins the season of Lent. Though we will not formally participate in Lent as a church, this can still be a very meaningful season for individuals and families to recognize together. The Lenten season has been observed by the church since early times. It traditionally begins with Ash Wednesday (this Wednesday the 10th) wherein we recognize our mortality and the great predicament that we're in because of sin. As one minister once said: "In the ashes we have a sign of our mortality. In communion we have a sign of our cure."
The season of Lent is meant for us to take time to focus on repentance of sin, mourning, and fasting - something we're not often told to do in our culture. It prepares us for the wonderful joy of Easter wherein we celebrate the surprising grace of God, Jesus' payment for sin, and the resurrection.
Here are the songs we'll be singing together this upcoming Sunday. You can also view our entire order of worship by following the link provided at the bottom:
1. Come People Of The Risen King
Style: This is an up-tempo contemporary hymn that is performed in a celtic style. The usual instrumentation for this hymn would include various strings, piano, and even wind instruments. We'll be playing this song with viola, cello, guitar, and piano. It should make for a beautiful arrangement.
Song Info: This song was written in 2007 by Keith & Kristyn Getty & Stuart Townend. Townend is an English born worship leader and modern hymn writer who is responsible for hymns such as: "In Christ Alone" and "How Deep The Father's Love For Us". His songs are often mistaken to be classic, traditional hymns. This song functions as a great call to worship because it is calling the people of the risen king to come and worship him - whoever they may be. "Come young and old from every land, men and women of the faith". This song reminds us that Jesus, by his death and resurrection, has created a most diverse people that includes men, women, young, and old from every tribe, nation, and tongue.
2. A Mighty Fortress is Our God
Style: We will play the traditional version of this song. It is low to mid-tempo though the melody and content of the song are very triumphal and full of energy.
Song Info: This famous hymn dates back to the sixteenth century and was written and composed by the German reformer Martin Luther. Luther wrote many hymns, but this is by far his most successful. In the nineteenth century there was some controversy as to whether or not Luther wrote the music, but recent scholarship on the issue suggests that he indeed did.
This hymn is a paraphrase of Psalm 46 and, in typical Luther fashion, very much focuses on spiritual warfare. The song is about the trials that we face in choosing to follow Christ - both sorrow in this age and also especial hardship that comes from the assaults of Satan. It is also about the glorious victory that we already have in Christ. This was something of a life-theme for Luther, who himself face many trials and was chiefly responsible for the reformation in Germany. This is one of my favorite hymns of all time.
3. Come Ye Sinners
Style: We will be playing a contemporary, modified version of this hymn. One of the shining virtues of the traditional hymn is its haunting melody. Thankfully, the version we are playing preserves the original melody and nearly all of the original lyrics. It's updated slightly to suit popular modern tastes.
Song Info: The lyrics were written by Joseph Hart in the 18th century. Hart was a hymn writer and minister in London, but he did not become converted until age 45. For much of his life he lived in opposition to God. This hymn seems particularly suited to his story. My favorite line is: "Come ye weary, heavy laden, lost and ruined by the fall. If you tarry til you're better you will never come at all." This version of the song was arranged and produced by Sojourn Church in Louisville Kentucky. Sojourn is a young, but large, reformed congregation in Louisville that is responsible for producing much excellent music and planting many healthy churches around the United States.
Our own Damon Gray took the time to chart out a lead sheet of this version. May it bless the church at large. See below:
4. O Sacred Head Now Wounded
Style: We will play the traditional version of this hymn. It is melodic, beautiful, and low-tempo.
Song Info: The lyrics to this hymn were originally written in Latin and date back to the Middle Ages - possibly to Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153). The music itself was written by Hans Leo Hassler in the seventeenth century and was harmonized by JS Bach. The tune has also been appropriated by pop musician Paul Simon for his "American Tune" so it is very familiar. The content of the song is a meditation on the agony of the cross intermingled with a meditation on our own sinfulness. As we sing we recognize that the suffering that Jesus faced was the suffering due to us because of our sin. The song ends in a grateful expression of love for our God and savior who would humble himself to suffer on our behalf.
5. O Love That Will Not Let Me Go
Style: We will be singing a more contemporary version of this song arranged by Indelible Grace. It is up-tempo and joyful with a folk-rock feel.
Song Info: The lyrics to this hymn were written in the nineteenth century by Scottish minister and hymn writer George Matheson. Though Matheson wrote several hymns, this is the only one that still enjoys popularity today. Matheson wrote this hymn on the eve of his sister's wedding. Matheson had previously been engaged himself, but his engagement was ended because he was going blind. His bride-to-be decided that she could not live the rest of her life with a blind man and broke the engagement. After that time he was cared for by his sister. But he wrote this hymn at a time when his sister would be married and no longer able to be his primary care taker. Emotionally, Matheson looked to God himself as his care taker. He said that he wrote this hymn in the time frame of five minutes.
You can also view our order of worship here. See you Sunday!